Monday, November 12, 2012

On Having A Little Fever (And Stuff)

I have almost nothing for today, but I have a couple of updates about some recent posts and about things I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. And for some reason I’m not clear on I’ve been running a little fever today. I don’t feel really ill, but my sinuses do hurt a little. We’ve had some strange weather lately—very warm, then very cold—and that might have something to do with it. I don’t know, but the pharmacist at Walgreens recommended Motrin. I’ve never taken it before, but I’m going to take two tablets with dinner tonight.


First of all, this:

“Why don’t you buy this Doctor Who episode? You have the novelization. And you talked about it last year. Buy this!”

The Call Of The Goblins
Beyond the post...

Okay, so over the weekend I gave in to some nagging and I bought an old Doctor Who DVD. This one. This is one of my favorite episodes and I have mentioned it before in the post “The Whole Earth As The Village?”.

I’ve a couple of things to say very briefly about this episode.

First, it’s very British television. On American TV, heroes almost always are defined by how they save people from terrible situations. In British TV, there’s a strange kind of subgenre, or something, where the heroes just fix bad situations and don’t have to save lives much at all. On many old “Avengers” episodes everybody Steed and Emma come into contact with investigating a case sometimes die. It’s very strange. This episode of Doctor Who is like that—everybody dies except the Doctor and his companion, Leela. It’s still interesting and fun. But it is hard imagining this as an American show.

Secondly, Leela was a great companion, possibly my favorite. One time a BBC executive singled her out in an interview, saying he’s often seen children playing Doctor Who games, but Leela was the only companion he’s ever seen girls arguing about because they all wanted to play her in the games. Leela was very popular among kids. And she was very popular among some men. But the BBC got a lot of hate mail about her, too, from many adults who felt she was too violent. And, apparently, many male fans of the show—in Britain, that is, British male fans—felt Leela wasn’t sexy at all because she often “talked back” to the Doctor and insisted on handling situations her own way, typically very forcefully.

Thirdly, just to clarify the start of that last paragraph, my two favorite companions are Leela and, of course, the second Romana. I just wrote about Romana in The Prettiest Ophelia Is An Asteroid. Romana also was very popular but took some heat from British fans. Some British fans felt that while Leela was too violent and talked back to the Doctor, Romana was too smart [!] and talked back to the Doctor.

Britain is a very strange place. (And now the head of the Church of England is a former oil company executive. Britain is a very strange place. I like a lot of things British, but I’m very happy to have written my post The Monster Thought Of The Waldensians.)

Fourth—and finally—this episode is interesting because it takes place on a small island where three people are living. Then a shipwreck brings a whole cast of characters onto the island. So, obviously, a person might want to draw comparisons to “The Tempest.” I’m not going to do that for a couple of reasons. One, I still haven’t actually read “The Tempest.” I’m still saving it. Two, as I mentioned above, in this story, everybody dies. In “The Tempest” from what I’ve read, nobody dies. And that’s something I did want to mention. The famous science fiction movie “Forbidden Planet” is almost always characterized as a ‘science fiction re-telling of “The Tempest”’ but what nobody ever mentions is that in “The Tempest” the ‘magician’ is a good guy, using magic to redress wrongs done to him and to restore his daughter to her rightful place back in the world off the island. In “Forbidden Planet” the father is a bad guy—if subconsciously—who uses the advanced alien technology that is like magic to brutally murder something like a dozen people, to keep himself isolated from the outside world and to keep his daughter away from the outside world and close to him. “Forbidden Planet” in many ways is the opposite of “The Tempest.” And to whatever extent this episode of Doctor Who can be compared to “The Tempest” it has the same issue—everybody dies and the ‘magician’ figure of the Doctor stops the aliens from conquering the Earth but doesn’t save any of the actual people involved in the story. It’s very strange that a lot of people seem to be very influenced by Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” but everyone seems to want to re-tell the story in a much, much more depressing fashion. I wonder why that is?


Another thing I want to mention is that last week I did a post Beyond The Horizon From Here that means a lot to me. It really did never occur to me until that day that I spend a lot of time thinking about traveling, yet my favorite artist was someone who almost never traveled at all except for a few day-trips and one or two vacations.

And in fact not long ago I did a post Pumpkin Are Free (Reprise) where I quoted science fiction author Robert Heinlein saying that cool people get out and travel around and dull people stick around one place.

And in fact the last thing I ordered from Amazon before this weekend’s Doctor Who episode (that is, right after the painting knives) was another Robert Heinlein novel called “Have Spacesuit, Will Travel.” It’s about a young man between high school and college who wins a spacesuit in a contest and, almost accidently but not accidently, gets involved in an adventure that involves him traveling to the Moon, then Pluto, then off to other star systems.


When I did that post last week it occurred to me that a great deal of the entertainment I’ve read in my life has been about the adventures of traveling, the adventures of exotic places, the thrills of GOING SOMEPLACE ELSE.

This is intriguing for a number of reasons. First of all, writers by and large are famous for not going out at all. Some writer observed that if he had gone out and had the adventures he wrote about he never would have had time to actually write the adventures. And another writer was asked if he’d had many of the adventures he wrote about and he just said something like, “Mostly I stayed home and wrote.”

So it occurs to me that I am—and everyone else is—almost endlessly subjected to something like propaganda promoting the wonders of travel. And I can’t stop wondering, now, how much of that imperative to travel is built on some real existential good that may come from travel, and how much is some kind of political or corporate pressure to 1) spend all the money traveling entails, making the corporations richer; and 2) break a person’s emotional bonds to specific places and specific communities and encourage the whole “citizen of the world” kind of mindset which so many politicians seem to promote, apparently because it creates political blocs with larger numbers of citizens in them making all the myriad and diverse pyramid-schemes of modern politics that much more lucrative.

I don’t know. But now I can’t stop thinking about it—my desire to travel and my affection for an artist who almost never traveled at all.


So that’s how this week is starting out. I’m a little sick and I’m going to take some medicine. I’ve got a Doctor Who DVD that should arrive Tuesday. And I’m still thinking about some of the things I posted about last week. (And on that topic of still thinking about things, I want to mention that I’m still thinking about stuff I talked about in my post To Make A Song To Sing About Walls. That stuff probably will come up in some way later this week although I have no idea how.)

Okay. Now I’m off to dinner and Motrin.

1 comment:

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